1) Stay true to your own professional judgement but do not be afraid to raise concerns
It is so important that you stay true to your own professional opinion and know what you are stating and why you are making such statements. Your views and opinions could be quoted in future tribunal orders, and decisions will be based upon any evidence you give in the SEN tribunal. If you do not feel that others have used their professional judgement appropriately, speak to the family/representative, or when the time is right, raise this with the Judge.
2) Make sure you understand all of the Tribunal Rules
There are so many things to know that sometimes only experience can tell. However, some things to know are how to address the Judge, when it is necessary to speak, how to cross-examine the other party's expert witnesses, what a submission and the importance of deadlines.
3) Understand your obligation to the first-tier tribunal as a professional expert witness
Any evidence you submit to the family is bound by a Statement of Truth, which you must also submit at the end of your report. Any statement you make in the hearing itself is deemed as verbal/oral evidence, and may be written down by the SEN tribunal judge and later used to make a decision.
4) Know your own report inside out
Sometimes when you are thinking about everything else, it is easy to forget what you actually wrote! You may be asked to refer to key parts of your report, so make sure you know what your recommendations are, and also where to find them in the 'bundle'. Make sure you ask the family or their representative for the full 'bundle'. This could contain information that you may be asked to comment upon, within your professional opinion.
5) Know how EHCPs should be written!
The Code of Practice and subsequent Case Law is available online for you to research and familiarise yourself with. Your report will be supporting either need or provision within an EHCP so it is really important that you know which bits of the Code of Practice you are adhering to. It may be that certain wording in your report amounts to certain decisions being made on the day. It can seem little, but it can have a massive impact.
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